Tender boneless and skinless chicken thighs stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese, and then baked to golden perfection in a simple marinara sauce.
When it comes to chicken, I’ve always favoured dark meat over breast meat. I know the breast meat is leaner and healthier, but unless it’s grilled or smothered in sauce, I always opt for the dark.
When I decided to make this Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken, I immediately decided to use boneless and skinless thigh meat. I knew it would result in a juicier chicken dish.
I can properly cook a chicken breast without it turning into a dry choking hazard. But, to eliminate the risk of the chicken being too dry, chicken thighs were the way to go!
I’ve been cooking a lot more with the combination of spinach and ricotta. I think they are two ingredients that pair very well together. And, there seems to be an endless use for them both in terms of recipes.
It was time I started to photograph some of these dishes and get them posted to Lord Byron’s Kitchen so that you could enjoy them too, Dear Reader! Let’s talk about the chicken.
How to flatten the chicken:
If you’ve used boneless skinless chicken thighs before, you’ll know that one side is smooth and glossy, while the other side is ragged and torn. This, of course, is the result of cutting the meat away from the bone.
For this recipe, you’ll want to flatten (or pound) the thigh meat so that the entire thing is evenly smooth. If you have a meat tenderizer, you can use that. Just be sure to use the flat side, not the spiky side!
I don’t own a lot of fancy kitchen tools, so I always improvise. Here’s how I like to pound the chicken. Place a large cutting board on your countertop. Place a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap on top of the cutting board.
Open the chicken thigh up – it’s usually rolled up in the package. Lay it flat on the board and top the chicken with another sheet of parchment or plastic wrap. Now, go get your rolling pin!
Using your rolling pin, firmly pound the pin down flat onto the thigh. Be sure to move around, gently pounding out the meat until it’s flat. You’ll want the chicken to be about 1/4 of an inch thick.
If you have spots that are too thin, don’t worry about it. It’s not going to make any difference at all. Just don’t leave thick parts, because it might not cook all the way though.
Place the pounded chicken on a plate and move onto the next piece. You can certainly re-use the same parchment paper or plastic wrap. My parents used to always say, “Waste not; want not!”
If you want a step by step, refer to this video.
Now that the chicken has all been pounded and laid out flat on a plate or platter. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken. Next, evenly distribute the spinach and ricotta mixture onto the chicken.
Don’t spread the mixture out! Elongate the mixture at the widest end of the chicken. Now, roll the chicken up, sealing in the ricotta mixture. There is no need to pierce the chicken with a toothpick to hold everything in place.
Set the stuffed chicken thighs, seam side down, into the baking dish that has been prepared with the marinara sauce. Top with the parmesan and black pepper. Bake for 30 minutes. That’s it – you’re done! It was easy, right?
Now, plate it up and enjoy! I like to serve this chicken with steamed brown rice. It’s also really good with pasta. It’s like a jacked up chicken parmesan! Oh, and this dish reheats very well the next day if you want to take any leftovers for lunch!
Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken
- 8-10 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 300 grams frozen spinach, squeezed dry
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 cups marinara sauce
- chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta, 1/2 cup of the parmesan, spinach, onion powder, garlic powder, and dried red chili flakes until well combined. Set aside.
- Pour the marinara sauce into a baking dish. Set aside.
- Place a large cutting board on your counter top. Place a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap on top of the cutting board. Lay one chicken thigh on the board and cover with another sheet of parchment or plastic wrap. Using a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin, firmly pound the chicken flat to 1/4 of an inch thick.
- Once the chicken has been flattened, sprinkle with the salt and half the ground black pepper.
- Evenly distribute the ricotta mixture onto the widest end of the flattened chicken thighs. Elongate the ricotta mixture and roll the chicken up to seal in the ricotta.
- Place the rolled chicken seam side down into the marinara sauce.
- Once all the chicken has been placed into the baking dish, top the chicken with the remaining ground black pepper and the remaining parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Top with parsley and serve immediately.